Berlin’s hotel scene is as diverse as the city itself.
One of the many reasons why Berlin is so attractive to visitors is the city’s unparalleled hotel scene. They really seem to grow out of the earth here, and when it comes to finding truly idiosyncratic places to stay Germany’s capital is hard to beat. Here’s a selection of different types of accommodation: stylish, homely, quirky, chic, expensive or on a budget. Our list is by no means comprehensive, as the city’s hotel scene is forever evolving and changing.
‘Walk down, it’s healthier’, says a little note outside the lifts in this Berlin hotel, a hotel that has a sister property in Barcelona and is the translation of Spain’s Camper shoe brand into the hotel world. Opened at the end of 2009, Casa Camper is full of such quirky little details, including the room numbers being displayed on the curtains and lit up in the evening so that they can be seen when approaching the hotel. Slickly designed and combining wood, steel and warm colourings, the hotel is not cheap but features an all-inclusive concept with breakfast, soft drinks, WLAN and – very nice – in-between snacks available 24/7. Rooms on the top floor come with fantastic views over Berlin, and so does the Tentempié Lounge, the hotel’s restaurant for breakfast and enjoying the city from above. The hotel also rents out bikes.
Location: On Weinmeisterstrasse in Berlin Mitte and close to the shops and the trendy scene around Hackescher Markt.
Berlin’s very own branch of Soho House opened in 2010, and the hotel, a private member’s club with 40 bedrooms, has already become a favourite for everyone who’s cool and cutting-edge. That doesn’t mean that it’s in any way snooty and unwelcoming, however; the staff are friendly, there’s ping pong and a foosball table in the lobby, and the fantastically cosy rooms combine lots of great retro stuff (spin some vinyl on an old-school record player) with modern amenities. You won’t really need to bring a lot apart from your clothes, since everything from deodorant to hair straighteners is provided. There’s a cowshed spa on site (the products are also generously stocked in every room) and a great rooftop space with a pool and bar. Obviously, this all comes at a price, but for a treat it might be just the right place.
Location: Berlin Mitte on Torstrasse in a restored Bauhaus building (interesting history: it’s a former department store that was seized by the Nazis from its Jewish proprietors and then used by the Communist government after the war).
The Michelberger conversion of an old factory building made quite a splash when it opened in 2009. The brainchild of Tom Michelberger, who has no hotel background whatsoever, it was set up with a diverse bunch of friends who wanted to create the kind of place they’d like to stay in and they felt was missing from the city. It is very Berlin, deliberately not perfect and, as the owner himself described it, a bit rough. You just need to have a look on the website to see that this is not your usual hotel, with the team calling itself ‘Intergalactic explorers’ and the tagline ‘from friends for friends’. It is very affordable and also has a room for eight to share. It is not for you if you expect clean chic and perfection, but you’ll like it if you’re into cuckoo clocks on the wall, quirky wallpaper and a lot of kitsch-cool.
Location: Friedrichshain, just across from the station, close to a number of Berlin’s most loved bars and clubs plus just round the corner from the East Side Gallery.
This is Berlin’s only privately-owned five-star hotel where Asian style meets Bauhaus furniture in a beautiful early 20th century city palais. Staff master the art of being welcoming and attentive without being in any way intrusive. Located in a quiet street in the city’s western part and close to the shopping mile of Kurfürstendamm, the Brandenburger Hof stands out for its architecture and its combination of classic and modern design. The Michelin-starred Quadriga restaurant is headed by innovative Finnish chef Sauli Kemppainen and is a bit of an insider’s tip in Berlin. The Brandenburger Hof is also a good choice for art lovers since it regularly comes up with special packages that include entrance to exhibitions or art fairs, allowing an insider’s glimpse into Berlin’s thriving art scene.
Location: in the west, near Kurfürstendamm which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2011 with a number of urban rejuvenation projects.
The great thing about Berlin is that there are so many fantastic buildings to provide unusual settings for hotels. Rocco Forte’s Hotel de Rome is in the former head office of Dresdner Bank, which was located here until 1945. The late 19th century structure on Bebelplatz, just off Unter den Linden, is very impressive and inside is equally grand. A lot of the original features have been kept such as the wood panelling (including bullet holes from World War II in one room) or the old jewellery vault in the basement which is now a beauty spa. There’s a lot of history in and around the hotel, with the Bebelplatz being the site of the Nazi book burnings, and the famous Museum Island nearby. tThe hotel’s roof-top terrace and bar is a favourite hang-out for the beautiful and the famous.
Location: Bebelplatz, next to the State Opera, within walking distance of many museums.
Honigmond is for the individual traveller. Staying here is almost like living – albeit for a short time only – in a typical period property in the city. Each room in the small, privately-run hotel is lovingly furnished. It’s charming, full of flair and very romantic. The breakfast comes highly recommended.
Location: Torstrasse in Mitte, close to Hackescher Markt.
‘A gallery where you can spend the night’, that’s the idea behind this hotel in an old city palais, where every room is decorated by a different artist. The theme is established as soon as you step into the lobby, which features sculptures and murals by different artists. Single and double rooms are ensuite or with separate bathrooms. If you fancy living it up Cabaret style, or being surrounded by the designs of Germany’s famous ‘banana sprayer’ Thomas Baumgärtel or laying your head down in an Edward Hopper tribute room – it’s all here.
Location: very central just next to Friedrichrichstrasse and within walking distance of the train station.
ON A BUDGET
Circus gets consistently good reviews and will most likely come up when asking Berlin insiders for a good and cheap hotel option. It was opened in 2008 as the hotel version of the Circus Hostel which is just across the road from the hotel and equally popular. The room range runs from singles up to three room apartments for four people, and all are individually and stylishly decorated. Circus calls itself a ‘green’ hotel focusing on sustainability which means, amongst others, that solar panels and green energy are in use and there’s no air-conditioning. There are lots of services offered to guests such as renting bikes, smart cars or guided city walks starting from the hotel.
Location: Rosenthaler Strasse in Mitte with a U-Bahn stop right in front of the hotel.
Motel One is a chain of stylish budget hotels with properties all over Germany, including eight in Berlin. For city breakers with little to spare on accommodation, they are good value for money, providing reliable standards, modern and clean rooms and funky design.
Location: all over Berlin including prime locations near Alexanderplatz, the main station and in Mitte.
A growing selection of apartments in Berlin provide very good value for money, in particular if travelling as a group or if staying longer than usual. Flower’s Boardinghouse offers one- and two-bedroom as well as two-bedroom maisonette apartments, sized between 37 and 60 square metres. Located in trendy Scheunenviertel in Mitte it is a central base for a Berlin stay. Clipper Boardinghouses are a very swish operation with several properties, including one in Mitte between Friedrichstrasse and Gendarmenmarkt. Suites come in sizes between 40 and 74 square metres. Liebling Apartments feature a selecton of flats in Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte. Wooden floors and pared down style with quirky details. Very Berlin, very cool.